Eugenics caused thousands to be childless

I just finished reading an article in Essence magazine about eugenics. Have you heard of this? Between 1929 and 1974, it was legal in 32 U.S. states to force women to be sterilized against their will. Thousands of sterilizations took place in the name of preventing people who were considered inferior from procreating. Many were poor or disabled in some way. Many were black. Many were in their teens and sterilized without their consent. Their families were sometimes told they would lose their welfare benefits if they didn’t do it. Can you imagine having this done to you, prohibiting you from ever having children? I’m shocked that it was still legal when I was a young adult.

In other countries, many more people have been sterilized, including hundreds of thousands in Nazi Germany and Japan, and it still happens in some places.

This is done with animals all the time. It’s called “selective breeding.” People prevent the weaker animals from procreating to create a superior line of offspring. But is this right for people? Who has the right to decide who gets to breed?

Among those people who don’t want children, I often read about women asking to be sterilized by having their tubes tied. If that’s their choice, that’s a different thing. Just as we can choose to use birth control or to marry a man who has had a vasectomy, it’s our decision to make. But nobody should make it for us, especially in such an irrevocable way. We might be able to find a new partner, but we can’t get a new body.

What do you think about this?

For more information on eugenics, go to or this shocking story in the Charlotte Observer about a eugenics victim who was sterilized in 1971.

3 thoughts on “Eugenics caused thousands to be childless

  1. The practice of eugenics like that is nothing more than criminal. Any doctor engaging in performing an invasive procedure that has absolutely no benefit to the patient, and against the patient's will, should at least lose their license to practice. Come to think of it, this applies to the mandated transvaginal ultrasounds given before a woman gets an abortion (sorry, this is a different subject). I have known disabled people to give birth to perfectly healthy babies and who, at the same time, have been terrific parents. Likewise, I also have known people who have avoided procreating because they carry a horrible disease and choose not to take a chance to pass it along to offspring. The key term here is “choice”. We should all have the freedom to reproduce or not. When we're deprived of choice for valid reasons (biological or a non-permissive situation due to our own decision), it sucks, but it is somehow easier to live with than to have that choice forcibly taken away.That's my 2 cents anyway.


  2. Anonymous, I totally agree with you. Our choices may or may not turn out well, but we should have a choice.

    Regarding that transvaginal ultrasound, I had one last year for a growth that proved to be nothing. I didn't know it was coming, and it was pretty awful. Pre-abortion, I imagine, it would be much worse.


  3. Transvaginal ultrasounds (TVAs) are par-for-the-course in IVF. Having gone through it, I don't think they are a big deal, but I can accept having one since it was necessary for treatment. In fact, most medical procedures that I can think of are less than pleasant, but we tolerate them because we know that they are for our own benefit. When they are NOT necessary, it's a deeply personal violation. I cannot begin to describe how it disgusts me that politicians can mess around with medical practice and common sense by signing unnecessary procedures like this into state law. I think it's no coincidence that the sterilization mandates bring this current issue to mind. Thankfully, states now recognize that involuntary sterilization is terribly wrong and are even talking about compensating victims (North Carolina in particular).


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